Audiobook Review: Better than Beginnings by Lane Hayes, Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Better Than Beginnings is a collection of shorts from the Better Than Good series.

From the blurb:

Matt Sullivan knows he met someone special the night he spots the sexy man on the dance floor. However, he doesn’t know his life is about to change forever. First of all, Matt is straight. Okay, maybe not, but he doesn’t think falling in love and spending the rest of his life with a hotheaded, unapologetically fabulous diva is an option.

Aaron Mendez is confident, smart, and very comfortable in his skin. He knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go for it. And though he might have reservations about falling for someone newly out of the closet, no one has ever looked at Aaron the way Matt does.

Navigating a relationship has its challenges, but both Matt and Aaron are willing to deal with difficult parents, holiday blues, and learning curves. They know their happy ever after is worth fighting for and that true love is better than good.

*No/low angst, sexy fun! This collection of short stories follows the lives of Matt and Aaron from my first novel, Better Than Good. The end of one chapter is the beginning of a whole new story from ordinary everyday life to an engagement, a wedding, and more. This collection is dedicated to Matt and Aaron fans and those who believe that the real love story happens after the first “I love you”.

Laora's Review:

In-depth check in with Matt and Aaron that did not disappoint!

I have read Matt and Aaron their first book a time ago. It was good to revisit them through a longer period of time with their daily things, highs and lows, and also to get glimpses and sometimes a little bit more of the other couples in the series.. I enjoyed that the author took the time to give us way more than the standard epilogue; there was further character and story development. 

I forgot how well crafted this series was and this listen inspired me to go ahead and started listening to more of the series. 

The narrator is on point and guided me through the whole bundle before I knew it.

Rating: 5 Stars

Jacquie's Review:

This collection of novellas and stories about Matty and Aaron is best enjoyed after at least book one of the series for how the pair met.

Another solid performance from Nick J Russo as we are taken through the first I love yous to the next chapter of their lives after getting married.

High heat, a lot of sweetness and happy feels. I loved being back with Matty and Aaron again.

Rating: 5 Stars

Lesetiger's Review:

If, like me, you enjoyed the first book in the series and learned how Matt and Aaron met, then you will love this sequel. I was even more pleased when I found this collection as an audiobook.

In this collection of short stories, we learn more about the lives of Matt and Aaron, who are a very special couple. They have happy moments as well as difficult ones ahead, but they stand by each other and are there for each other. It was nice to follow the everyday lives of these two.

I enjoyed how Matt and Aaron met their families. The reaction of these was very different. There were ups and downs, vacations, an engagement and a wedding. In the process, Matt and Aaron evolved and I enjoyed the way these short stories were constructed yet interwoven.

Nick J.Russo brought Matt and Aaron to life with his pleasant voice. He delivered sad situations as convincingly as the happy mood at the wedding. An enjoyable audiobook that entertained me well and that I am happy to recommend.

­čÄžAudiobook Review­čÄž
Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Performance: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐
Story: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐

Janet's Review:

Better Than Beginnings is a fantastic collection of shorts with Matt and Aaron. There were times I was laughing and others I was crying! The stories gave me so many smiles! I love Aaron’s personality and the way he’s not afraid to wear eyeliner or lace. Matt is his perfect balance, albeit a serious other half. I loved how these stories sucked me in! 

Nick J Russo does a fantastic narration. Each of his voices were clear, unique and distinct. Overall, a fantastic story! The story was really well written, an easy listen, the pacing flowed smoothly, highly recommend. The story kept me engaged and I literally could not stop listening.

Rating: 5 Stars

Better Than Beginnings is available to buy from Audible and is Whispersynced.

Length: 10 Hours 46 Minutes

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Established Couple, MM Romance, Gay romance

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Better Than Beginnings Excerpt- From Better Than Wedding

“What’s Saturday?”

“A no-work day. And we’re meeting with our wedding planner. I was worried his ideas would be too pricey, but Vic will be thrilled when I tell him you agreed to spare no expense on the reception.”

“That doesn’t sound like something I’d say,” I huffed, blowing on a spoonful of chili, then taking a bite. “Mmm. This is delicioso.”

Gracias. Well, someone who looks and sounds a lot like you just agreed to a unicorn ice sculpture at our reception,” he deadpanned.

I snorted. “Yeah, right. You can’t use anything I say in the last few seconds of a playoff game against me.”

“Does that mean no to two champagne fountains too?” He snickered at my stone-faced expression as he reached for his wine. “Fair enough, but you’d better start weighing in before I’m tempted to do something crazy. This isn’t just my wedding, it’s our wedding.”

I turned to fully face him. “I thought we were set. We have a date, a place, and a minister. We agreed on invitations, and we even talked about our honeymoon. What am I missing?”

“The details, Matty! All the details.” Aaron flashed an incredulous look at me and smacked his hand on the island. “Look, you’re busy at work, and I know the last things you think about are table decor and cake toppers, but I’m busy too and I can’t stop thinking about them. And then my head explodes with more choices like roses or lilies, chocolate ganache or buttercream, and don’t even get me started on the seating arrangements. It’s making me crazy!”

“I can see that.” I chuckled and set my spoon aside, snaking my arm around his waist when he glared at me. “Hey, I’m kidding. Tell me what you want me to do. How about if I choose the flowers?”

“Oh, no. Definitely not. I know you too well, Matty. You’d wait until the last minute, then either ask your secretary or my future monster-in-law to help and there’s no way in hell I’d—”

“Hey. No need to get nasty here.” I threaded my fingers through his and kissed the platinum band on his left ring finger.

“I’m sorry. I know I told you I’d handle things, but you’re kind of strict about the budget.”

“One of us has to be if we want to buy—”

“I know.” Aaron leaned against me and kissed my shoulder. “I think it’s a great idea, but the problem is that you don’t really understand how much things are. You need to be part of some of the major decisions, so you get the picture. I have a proposition to make.”

“Oh, boy. What did you do, and how much is it going to cost?” I asked, slipping his glass from his hand and taking a healthy swig.

“Ha. Ha. I didn’t do anything. Yet. But let’s be real—this whole thing is going to cost a fortune, but it’ll be worth it. I’ve already done the bulk of the research, and Vic is a great resource, but I still think we should have a weekly powwow so I can go over things with you before we meet the wedding planner. So we don’t waste time or veer off course…because yes, Vic really did ask how my fianc├ę felt about a caviar bar.”

“Oh, my God.” I set the glass down and gulped.

“Don’t worry, Papi. I told him it wasn’t your style. But gosh, I could easily get talked into a champagne fountain. It sounds romantic, doesn’t it?”


Aaron snickered at my quick reply and gestured for me to eat. “See the problem? I promise I won’t make any rash decisions, but I need your input on some things if we’re going to make it to the altar without you wringing my neck when I’m ten thousand dollars over—”

“Ten thousand!” My jaw dropped as I widened my eyes comically.

“Calm down. I’m innocent. I’ve been so good it hurts,” he said with a sigh. “But if something is going to hurt, it should be in a good way. And preferably with an orgasm or two. Don’t you agree?” Aaron lowered his hand and rubbed his palm over my half-hard cock.


“We should have our husband-to-be chats once a week to discuss our plans.”

I lifted my hips slightly and cupped his neck to bring him closer. “Good idea.”

“But you’ll have to give me your undivided attention,” he purred as he pulled at the elastic bands of my shorts and boxer briefs. Then he slipped his fingers under the fabric and grabbed my dick. “I don’t want to compete with basketball, baseball, or anything else. It’ll be a special date. Just me and you.”

“Mmm. Yes.” I licked the corner of his mouth, pulled his pajamas and boxer briefs down, and kneaded his ass.

“We can be flexible about the day and time,” he said in a throaty tone, nipping my jaw as he stroked me from base to tip.

“What about location?” I asked, tracing his crack with my middle finger.

“Yes. Anywhere is fine.”


Lane Hayes | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Meet the Author


Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, 2018-2019, 2020-2021 Rainbow Awards. She loves wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.  

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